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The suffix -ert can be attached to four categories of base forms:

  • adjectives: gjirrich stingy > gjirrichert miser;
  • verbs: glûpe to sneak > glûpert sneak;
  • geographical names: Spanje Spain > Spanjert Spaniard;
  • nouns: tûfe crest > tûfert bird with a crest.
All derivations have common gender, and in most of the cases personal nouns are derived. As far as the suffix is still productive, this might only be with adjectival and verbal bases. In that case, the derivations often have a negative connotation. Comparable suffixes that form such negative nouns are -(e)ling, -DIM and -sma and -stra.

The suffix has two variants, -tsjert and -kert, the latter often attached to bases ending in a vowel.

[+]Derivations with an adjectival base

The suffix -ert still seems productive in deriving nouns from adjectives. Examples are listed below:

Table 1
Base form Derivation
lomp rude lompert lout
goochem sly goochemert sly fox stupid person
gjirrich stingy gjirrichert miser
stikem secret stikemert sneak, sneaky person
sleau negligent sleaukert negligent person
lyts small lytskert baby, small object

These derivations with an adjectival base always denote persons, often with a negative connotation. This implies that the suffix is not added to adjectives with a positive impact, like for instance aardich kind: we do not have a formation *aardichert.

Secondly, -ert can be added to a verb. Here, the suffix may also be productive. Examples are:

Table 2
Base form Derivation
glûpe to sneak glûper(t) sneak
stjonke to stink stjonker(t) stinker
streupe to poach streuper(t) poacher
flaai(kj)e to flatter flaai(k)er(t) flatterer
klinke to sound klinker(t) vowel, clinker
poepe to defecate poepert ass

The derivations are person names (the first four examples) or instrument names (the two last ones).

It is likely that the suffix -ert came into existence through epithesis /t/ (the so-called paragogic /t/) of derivations with the suffix -er. It is striking that there is a good deal of variation between a form with and without final [t] in most of the forms. An example is flaai(k)ert next to flaai(k)er flatterer. Derivations with Hoekstra (1998: 105)-ert often have a pejorative connotation, while -er is neutral.

[+]Derivations with a geographical name as a base

There are two examples in which a geographical name can be the base: the inhabitant names > Spanjert Spaniard (from Spanje Spain) and Bil(t)ker(t) inhabitant of the Bilt area (from Bilt Bilt, an area in the north of the province of Fryslân). In case of Bil(t)ker(t), both [t]-s are optional, but addition of [k] is obligatory.

[+]Derivations with a nominal base

Finally, there are derivations with a nominal base, but they do not belong to the daily language anymore. A few examples can be mentioned and in all of them an extra phonological process occurs:

  • In tûfe [tufə] crest > tûfert [tufət] a bird with a crest the schwa of the base form has been deleted;
  • In moarmer [mṷarmə] marble > moarmert [mṷarmət] marble marble, i.e. a small hard ball of marble used by children to play the game of marbles the second syllable of the base form has been truncated;
  • In dau [dɔ.u] dew > daukert [dɔ.ukət] dew worm the segment [k] has been added.
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Opaque derivations

There are a few opaque derivations in -ert which are still in use. One example is stakker(t) poor wretch, which is related to Old-Norwegian stafkarl and literally means man with a rod (see the entry in etymologiebank). Another example is stumper(t) pauper, which probably comes from stomp stump (idem).

[+]The variants -kert and -tsjert

In several derivations we see a segment /k/ preceding the suffix -ert. With nominal bases, its source may be a diminutive form. lytskert baby; small object, for example, may have been derived from lyts-ke small-DIM small one. Attachment of -ert then results in lytskert. Verbal bases may have provided a base with /k/ after derivation with the suffix -k (for this suffix, see -k deriving verbs from verbs). Thus next to flaaie to flatter there is flaaikje to flatter continuously, which may have been the source for flaaikert flatterer. Possibly, the variant -kert may have been abstracted from these sources, resulting in an independent variant as in moaikert beautiful object, sleaukert negligent person or skierkert hooded crow; old man. Furthermore, parallellism with the allomorphy that exists in diminutives may have led to the allomorph -tsjert. We see this form in the birdnames gieltsjert yellow-hammer and grautsjert corn-bunting. It is striking that many derivations are attached to a base ending in a vowel. The segment /k/ could have the function of a hiatus filler here.

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This topic is mainly based on Hoekstra (1998:104-105).

  • Hoekstra, Jarich1998Fryske wurdfoarmingLjouwertFryske Akademy
  • Hoekstra, Jarich1998Fryske wurdfoarmingLjouwertFryske Akademy